Ashley Griffin earns Ph.D. in Health Informatics

Ashley Griffin successfully defended her doctoral dissertation on March 19, 2021 and earned her Ph.D. in Health Informatics from the Carolina Health Informatics Program (CHIP) at UNC Chapel Hill. Griffin is a CHIP National Library of Medicine (NLM) T15 fellow and worked under the guidance of Dr. Arlene Chung, Associate Director of Health/Clinical Informatics, Director of Clinical Informatics Fellowship, Informatics Director for Digital Health Innovation and Patient Engagement at UNC Health, and Medical Director of Population Health Informatics at UNC Health Alliance. Griffin’s dissertation focused on conversational agents and connected devices to support chronic disease self-management, such as physical activity, medication management, and blood pressure control. Griffin leveraged a user-centered design approach to design, develop, and evaluate the usability a conversational agent for hypertension self-management. Griffin also examined the potential and implications of tailoring these dialogues using wearables and other connected devices.

Griffin began her doctorate in health informatics after completing her Master of Science in Public Health from UNC Gillings School of Public Health. “During my time at Gillings, I became interested in informatics when UNC Health transitioned to the Epic EHR. I had the opportunity to help with clinic go-lives and work with the My UNC Chart support team. I enrolled in CHIP’s Public Health Informatics Certificate to learn more about the field. I also had the pleasure of working with Dr. Arlene Chung during this time, and I knew that I wanted to continue pursuing research with her once the CHIP doctoral program was launched.”

“Ashley has been an exceptional doctoral student throughout her tenure at CHIP, including being one of the first students to join the PhD program. I am delighted to see her numerous successes over the past several years and am looking forward to seeing her contributions to the field as a research scholar. There is no question that she will make a lasting impact on the field of consumer health informatics, and it has been an honor to serve as her dissertation chair and mentor over the years.” - Dr. Arlene Chung.

As a doctoral student, Griffin engaged in seminars, meetings and classes, and presented at conferences all over the U.S. Griffin particularly enjoyed collaborating with other students and colleagues - “My favorite part of the doctoral process was meeting so many wonderful colleagues. I am very thankful for all of their support during this journey. I really enjoyed studying together at coffee shops and going to conferences with the group.”

Griffin’s next career step is a postdoctoral research fellowship in medical informatics at Stanford University and Veterans Affairs Palo Alto Health Care System. She plans to continue pursuing research in consumer health informatics to develop tools and methods that can advance health information access and patient-centered care. “I believe health informatics has the potential to promote access to information and technologies that can help people better manage their health and improve outcomes. Our health care system is complex, and vast amounts of health data are generated throughout society. But, this information is not equally accessible or utilized. Getting this information to patients in a meaningful way can empower them to take an active role in their health.”


CHIP wishes the very best for Dr. Ashley Griffin and appreciates all she has contributed to the program as a trainee and as a doctoral student.


Follow Ashley’s work on Twitter @griffinashleyc.